Chai the elephant ‘most likely’ died from teeth abnormalities that affected caloric intake, zoo says

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(Photo: Oklahoma City Zoo)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Former Seattle elephant Chai “most likely” died from an abnormality in her teeth that worsened throughout her life and prevented her from chewing food properly and reduced her ability to extract caloric content from her food, Oklahoma City officials said Monday.

Chai arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo last May, after leaving Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.  The 37-year-old elephant died Jan. 30.

During a necropsy, verterinarians said everything appeared to be normal. But zoo officials said a recent evaluation of Chai’s skeleton found tooth abnormalities that were not detectable prior to her death.

“Based on all of the necropsy findings, it is most likely that Chai had a congenital abnormality of her teeth that progressively worsened throughout her life. The abnormal surfaces of her molars prevented her from chewing food properly, which led to reduced ability to extract caloric content despite an excellent appetite and intake of a normal quantity of food,” a news release read.

Officials say there was no treatment that could have corrected the condition.



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